NORTH ATTLEBORO, Mass. – Last year, Attleboro was able to hold off the Rocketeers with a strong defensive performance and claimed the annual Blue-Red Cup by a single goal. On Saturday afternoon at William T. Kelly Field, North Attleboro came out strong right from the opening kick-off intent on reclaiming the trophy and avoiding the upset.
Emily Schromm scored early in the first half to break the deadlock, Haley Guertin had a pair of assists and sisters Ashlyn and Emma Gaulin each had goals, as North rolled to a 4-0 victory to close out the regular season.
“We took care of business,” said North coach Bill Wallace, who took over the team when Glenn Pasquel resigned midway through the season. “I told the kids before we played Foxboro that these games count just as much as the first game of the year, as league title games. It’s as important to get as many points as we can and we’ll worry about everyone else later.”
In both last year’s cup game and the first meeting between these two teams two weeks ago, Attleboro stymied the Rocketeers early, but the Bombardiers could not manage that this time around.
Guertin, a University of Rhode Island-commit, flipped a ball over the top of the Attleboro defense towards Schromm, who was making a run from midfield. Attleboro keeper Madison Brown hesitated, struggling to read the ball off the uneven Kelly Field pitch, and that slight delay allowed Schromm the time to run onto it and line up a shot through the five-hole to make it 1-0.
“Last time we played them, their goalie stood on her head and we didn’t score until about 20 minutes left,” said Wallace. “As the game goes on and you start to feel the pressure, the net gets smaller and smaller. So, it was important [to score early].”
North was relentless in the midfield with Britta Anderson, Grace McGoldrick, and Juliana Direnzo taking turns to control the middle of the pitch, as Wallace subbed regularly and at times sent in 10 players at a time.
Schromm had a second chance saved by Brown at the near post later in the first half and Guertin had a try from the edge of the box but it was easy for the keeper. The lone Attleboro chance was a long shot from Hannah Meier that Emma Noreck caught after a bounce.
There was nothing easy about the second goal however. Guertin, under pressure from Attleboro defender Jordyn Forte, rolled the ball out to the right for Emma Gaulin to run onto and the sophomore rocketed a shot into the top corner to double the North lead.
“The first half we were our own worst enemy,” said Attleboro coach Steve Santos. “My goalie hesitated on the first one and the second one the halfback didn’t follow her mark in and she finished it nicely and made us pay for it.”
With the confidence of a two-goal cushion, North started the second half brightly. Guertin had an early chance that went just wide of the far post and just out of the reach of Gaulin sliding in at the far post.
The best chance for Attleboro came shortly after when Kara Thornton turned on the edge of the North box and had a shot but it was straight at the keeper. Aine Mendonca nearly curled in a free kick for North’s third but moments later the Rocketeers added another and put the game away.
The chance came from the wings with Felicity Monfils making the run from outside to in behind the left back and she got to a through ball Haley Ferrin and just managed to get a toe on it before Brown could smother it. The ball rolled to Ashlyn Gaulin and she tapped it into the empty net.
Wallace said, “We tried to use the width today. Some stuff we saw on film was that we had more success going wide and crossing through. Part of that is you get away from [Forte] in the middle.”
Santos was urging his team to push forward more at halftime, but the Bombardiers struggled to get into the attack. He explained, “We haven’t had a good offensive year and sometimes when a team scores early, 2-0 at halftime is like being down 4-0. They don’t want to make a mistake and give up that third goal and we get trapped back here and teams come at us even more.”
North wrapped up the scoring in the closing minutes when Leah Jette capped a solid all-around game by getting free for a breakaway and cooly finishing past Brown.
While North celebrated with the Blue-Red Cup and gets ready for the state tournament pairings this week, Santos reflected on the season gone by for the Bombardiers (2-15-1).
He said, “My captains (Rebekah Entwistle and Chloe Vieira) are the heart and soul of this team. They’ve never quit and they’ve played through some injuries and adversity and my whole team fed off of them and their no-quit attitude.”
North Attleboro(13-3-2), which won the program’s first ever league title in its first season in the Davenport division, will await the pairings for the Div. 1 South tournament.